Saying Yes

As I was sitting down to write my weekly blog post, I got a text asking if I’d like to come over to someone’s house for dinner.  Initially, I thought about all the stuff that I wanted to get done that night, and that I should say, “No”. However, I then pondered just how important, really, were the things I’d be doing if I said, “No” to the invitation.  I replied to the text with, “I’ll be there!”

Sometimes when we get opportunities to do things, we think about reasons that would keep us from saying, “Yes”.  I’m going to challenge that line of thinking and start looking for reasons to accept.  This is just another reminder for me to be intentional with my choices versus defaulting to getting stuff done.

Sorry for the short post this week, but I’ve got a dinner engagement to get to!

A Quick Thought On Choice

There are plenty of things in life that we have no control over.  For example, the weather, the economy, genetics, and most every other person on the planet, just to name a few.  However, there are a number of variables in life that we do have control over.

Of those variables, the lever of control we have is choice.  We can choose our responses, our behavior, our outlook, the words we use, the course we chart for our life.

This knowledge should be a constant reminder to us to make wise choices.  The choices we make today impacts the quality of our tomorrows.

Introductions From Others

I’m currently listening to the audio book “Music is History” by Questlove.  One thing I’m really enjoying about this book so far is the introductions Questlove has indirectly given me to artists and songs I might not have encountered on my own.  I’m just a few chapters in, and already, I’ve been listening to a handful of new songs and “favorited” a couple of artists in Spotify.  I’m grateful he took the time to write this book and share some of his favorites with the rest of us.

Be on the lookout for these indirect introductions throughout your day.  They could be recommendations from friends, suggestions of things to do this weekend from the evening news, or suggestion on a website.  It’s a great way to experience something new, and maybe even discover a new favorite.

You’ll Find It

Here’s a quick reminder that we tend to find more of what we’re looking for. 

If we feel like the world is going crazy, we’ll notice things that reinforce that thought.  If we think all <insert people group> are jerks, we’ll notice evidence that supports that too.  We’ll find all the negativity we want, when we have our radar up for it.

Likewise, we’ll also notice the good in the world when our radar is looking for it.  When we’re looking for acts of kindness, generosity, and inspiring human behavior, we’ll find it. 

So what are you looking for?   

Think On These Things

It’s been a wild couple of weeks on the geo-political scene.  There have been so many horrific and heart-breaking images coming out of Ukraine and so much coverage of the events that it can feel overwhelming.  And while it’s good to be informed of what’s going on in the world, I don’t think it’s good for us to be over-saturated with information.   There needs to be some boundaries on how much information we’re consuming on a devastating topic.

It’s natural to want to know the latest with regard to a major world event, but I think it’s also important to make sure we’re allowing some positive content into our minds as well.  I like specifically like the encouragement we get from Philippians 4:8 where we’re told to think about things that are:

  • True
  • Noble
  • Right
  • Pure
  • Lovely
  • Admirable
  • Excellent
  • Praiseworthy

This is such a good and timely reminder to make sure that, in addition to news, we’re also filling our mind with content that will encourage and lift us up.  If all we’re consuming is the daily news, we’re going to be left feeling anxious, afraid, depressed, and exhausted, and who wants to go around feeling like that all day?

Be mindful in the days ahead (every day, actually) to fill your mind with encouraging and uplifting content that evokes inspiration, gratitude, and joy.  It’s out there, we just have to make sure we’re noticing.

I Don’t Have Time

On Wednesday afternoon, I heard from a friend that her husband’s surgery that we’ve been praying about went great, with “no surprises”.   I love that kind of news!  I was so grateful to hear it and prayed a prayer of thanksgiving and gratitude to God.  As I was praying, and enjoying the moment, I was reminded that I don’t have time.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got time to give God praise all day long, but in that moment, what struck me was that I don’t have time for things like:

  • Things that cause division between people
  • Holding grudges
  • Negativity
  • Judging others
  • Needless worry (which most worry is)
  • Spending time with consistently negative people
  • Harboring negative thoughts
  • Listening to the endless stream of outrage, hate, and anger
  • Consuming content that leads to any of the bullet points above

I’m so grateful to God, not just because of my friend’s good surgery report, but because of who He is and what He’s done for me. 

Out of that gratitude, I realize that I don’t have time to waste like that. 

Anticipation

It’s been a gray rainy winter in the Pacific Northwest where I live.  Long nights and gray days are pretty normal this time of year.  While I actually like the end of fall and beginning of winter, after the Christmas and New Year holidays are over, I’m ready for some sunnier days.  Fortunately, sunny days are also something that is not uncommon in the PNW either.

About every winter, we get these beautiful days where, while the weather is still cold, the sun is out and the sky is this clear brilliant blue.  Couple that with some frost in the morning, and you have a wonderful start to your day!  There’s something about a sunny break in the winter, no matter what the temperature is, that gets me excited for the day ahead, as well as the Spring season that is not too far away. 

I anticipate these sunny days every winter.  Days like that cause me to thank God and make me grateful to be alive.

So, what are you anticipating?  A change in the weather, an upcoming event?  I think it’s important to have something we’re looking forward to, no matter how big or small.   It gives us an excitement about the days ahead.  And personally, like my pastor says, I believe the best is yet to come!

Reminder That We Need Each Other

I had a good laugh with the pastor of my church a couple weeks ago when a few of us were working on something in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.  As he was navigating the spreadsheet on his laptop, a couple of us were telling him what buttons to press to make something happen.  As we were all laughing at the process, he stated, “They didn’t teach us how to do this stuff in seminary.” 

His comment reminded me how we need the skills and talents of others.  There’s no way any one of us can know everything.  I don’t know anyone who can do all of the following:

  • Use a spreadsheet
  • Perform dentistry
  • Make gasoline
  • Build a cell phone tower
  • Build a cell phone
  • Fly a passenger aircraft
  • Perform surgery
  • Build a car
  • Make steel
  • Grow vegetable on a commercial scale
  • Operate a railroad
  • Build or operate a hydro-electric power plant
  • Professionally counsel someone through personal difficulties
  • Run a city sewer system
  • Build a skyscraper
  • Compose music
  • Play a musical instrument
  • And on and on and on…

I’m fortunate that we can rely on others to help where our knowledge falls short.  Often times, we don’t even think about all the people that we’ll never meet that are behind some of the technology, infrastructure, and entertainment we use every day.  However, we daily benefit from their contributions.

What I’m also grateful for is that we can contribute our skills and talents to improve the lives of others too!  To me it seems like the best way that we can say, “Thank you” to those whose efforts benefit us, is to give our effort to improve the lives of others. 

I’m Glad I Noticed

I’ve been playing the electric bass guitar on the worship team at my church for about 3 years.  One of the many things I enjoy about being on the worship team is the view I get from being on stage.  It’s fun to look out and see the people in the audience and even the others on stage.  And sometimes, I’m fortunate to see things other people don’t.

For example, last week during the service, we had a young family come up and read some Scripture as part of the fourth Sunday of Advent.  The family consisted of mom, dad, and two young boys, who had to be about 4 and 7.  They stood in front of me and to the right, not more than about 10 feet away.

Mom and dad each read a section of scripture before handing the microphone to the 7-year-old, who began reading his lines in a nervous young voice.  As I was watching from behind, I noticed the dad place his hand on his oldest son’s shoulder in a gesture of support.  As the boy began to read, the dad moved his hand and began gently scratching the boys back, to provide comfort and reassure him that he was doing just fine.  It was a beautiful picture of a father being present.  I’m grateful that I had a front row seat to this event… and I’m glad I noticed.

From an elderly husband holding a door open for his wife, to a reassuring touch to a child from a loving parent, to a heart-felt slap on the back from a good friend, these types of touching scenes are happening all around us, and they often go unnoticed. 

I encourage you to keep your eyes open for these occurrences around you.  Not only will it make you feel good, but may it also encourage us to go and do likewise to those we care about. 

Never Get Tired Of It

Last Saturday we spend a great autumn day in Hood River Oregon.  It’s an agriculture-based region on the north side of Mt. Hood known for its apples, pears, and peaches.  In addition to the agriculture, it’s a beautiful part of the state, especially in the Fall when the leaves are changing.  Throw a clear blue sunny sky in there, (along with my sister and brother in law) and a good thing gets exponentially better!

We’ve been going to Hood River in the fall for several years now, and I never get tired of the area’s natural seasonal beauty.  Every year when I see the colors and Mt. Hood’s northern face, I’m awestruck all over again.  I can’t imagine a day when that scene would NOT spark my amazement. 

I think it’s important continue to be amazed by the beauty around us, even if we’ve seen it many times before.   There’s something about a beautiful landscape that, as my wife would say, “fills my bucket”.  I’ll never get tired of noticing such scenery.

Be on the lookout for those scenes that amaze you.  Whether it’s a landscape, a night sky, a trout stream, or any other scene, it doesn’t really matter.  What does matter is that you take the time to stop and notice it, and to remind yourself that you’ll never get tired of experiencing it.